Slow Passing Zone – Why Big Trucks Take So Long To Pass Another Vehicle On The Interstate
I don't do a lot of interstate highway driving. However, this past weekend I found myself on my now annual drive to Atlanta Georgia to drop my son off at college. As Jack, my son, and I contemplated the kind of questions only two guys can contemplate on a long road trip I began to notice how many times we were getting stuck behind one 18 wheeler trying to pass another 18 wheeler.
In some cases the roadway overtaking was taking up to five miles to complete. As you might imagine over the course of five minutes and five miles there was quite a build up of impatient car drivers ready for the big rig to make the pass and get back into the slower lane. I first reasoned that this might be some kind of driving message the truckers were trying to send to us regular drivers. It turns out it wasn't.
I posed the question on the radio show yesterday and was promptly answered by two professional drivers who informed me that today's big rig is not the wide open speed machine I thought it was. When I think of trucks I think of Jerry Reed as the Snowman in Smokey and the Bandit. That truck could move and had no trouble maneuvering around slower traffic. Many of today's modern big rigs have an eye in the sky that keeps them from even traveling as fast as the posted speed.
One of the professional drivers I spoke to yesterday said that many companies govern the speed of their vehicles at 68 to 65 miles per hour. This is done in the interest of fuel economy and safety. That is also why it takes so long for one rig to get around another in a passing maneuver on the interstate.
Think about the times you've set your cruise at 70 miles per hour and the vehicle beside you is just slightly faster. They seem to ride on your shoulder forever. Until you tap your brakes and let them get on around you. The same thing has to happen for truckers. Many of those guys and gals have the cruise control set and an inadvertent slow down then resumption of top speed wastes fuel. These guys are monitored everyday on what kind of gas mileage they get. If they don't hit their number they hear it from the big boss.
So, now that you know a little more about what our friends in the big trucks are going through maybe you can give them a little extra patience to make the moves they need to make to get their job done. These slower speeds are costing them money per mile and they still have time deadlines they have to meet.Thank goodness truckers still have the best songs about what they do.
Just be thankful there isn't some dispatcher monitoring your every move via satellite every time you drive. Chances are most of us wouldn't have a license by the end of the day.